From plan to practice

It was a long, uncertain summer. 

It involved scouting possible Eastside commercial properties and crafting a business plan while squeezing in classes in a garage-turned gym in Kapahi. Or running groups between commercial site visits at a local park where CrossFitters did pull ups on the monkey bars as everyone bided their time. 

Because that was the end game, a Kapaa gym — but not in a garage or on public grass.

“I knew it was going to happen,” said Charolette Psaila, who opened CrossFit Kapaa on Monday, three days shy of her 23rd birthday, the only box in the Eastside hub. “But a couple of times I was like, ‘Ugh, it’s probably not going to happen for a while.’”

But on Monday, the certified instructor led her inaugural class at the new location — which she and co-owner and boyfriend Cory Miller gutted and rebuilt with the help of volunteers — at 4516 Akoa Road. And for a first-time event, the dozen-member group wasn’t filled with strangers.

“I missed the feeling of the team sport instead of an individual one,” said member Monica Campoarnett, who used to train with Psaila while Psaila managed Kauai CrossFit’s former Kapaa gym location on the coastal path across from the Kapaa Neighborhood Center. 

The Kauai CrossFit Kapaa gym closed in the spring, leaving some members to transfer gyms or workout by themselves. The individual aspect is a far cry from what CrossFit preaches — high-speed functional fitness in a class setting where those who finish the WOD — or workout of the day — cheer on those who are about to finish. The workouts are scaled to each athlete’s level, but almost all workouts are timed, regardless of skill level.

“Very motivational,” Campoarnett described it. “And the group energy is supportive.”

Besides crafting a workout program, Psaila, a Kilauea native, had to draw up a business model to secure money to make her dream possible. As much volunteer help as the couple received — “a tribe,” as Psaila called it — it’s been a new experience being a business self-starter. 

“It’s all learning,” she said about the business-side.

But it’s a plan they’ve chipped away at all summer and fall and now it’s being put into practice.

“I’m excited to be at the beginning of this,” Campoarnett added.

Jerome Hromiak, owner of the former Kapaa box before it closed for economic reasons, brought CrossFit to the island in 2010. He still operates his gym in Lihue, and said Psaila excelled at teaching fundamentals while she worked for him in Kapaa, especially to those younger than your average gym goer.

“She did a great job with the kid (program) and has an excellent foundations approach,” he said.

Kristin Tandal, working out at the inaugural class Monday, agreed.

“She’s a good coach,” she said. “She’s very thorough.”

Psaila said she wants to gear her hourlong classes, which run at 8 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, toward that community feel. She plans to start up a kids program as well. 

The box, which charges $100 a month for members who sign up for six months or more, will have a grand opening party and blessing from 2-5 p.m. Nov. 29.

“I want it to be fun,” she said. “CrossFit has a reputation of being hardcore, very intense, and yeah, it is, but I want it to be more of an inviting community, a supportive community. Because it’s hard enough to work out. I want it to be like your friends are here, we’re going to help you get through the workout.”

David Johnson, who will assist Psaila with coaching, was one of the members who sneaked in workouts when the temporary gym was in a garage in Kapahi and did pull ups on the monkey bars at local parks. He was also one of the “tribe” who volunteers hours turning the new site into a bonafide gym, complete with barbells, chalk, wallballs, dumbbells, jump ropes and everything else CrossFitters have grown to love and fear.

“I knew it was going to happen,” he said of opening shop one day. “I just didn’t know when.”

That when came on Monday. And the trial run, so to speak, seemed to fit the goal of keeping a community feel just fine.

“It was fun,” Psaila said after leading the morning class. “It was definitely a reunion. It’s nice to see all the familiar faces.”

CrossFit Kapaa’s grand opening and blessing

2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 29,

4516 Akoa Rd, Kapaa

Info: (808) 639-5752 or 

crossfitkapaa@gmail.com

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